Confluence will strengthen the music industry in North Carolina and help develop Charlotte as a hub

By Cameron Lee

September 25, 2023

North Carolina has a storied music history across a multitude of genres. From pioneering bluegrass musicians like Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson to R&B icons like Jodeci, Anthony Hamilton and Fantasia, the state is steeped with musical tradition and influence. Even today, artists and acts like Sylvan Esso, J. Cole, and Luke Combs are keeping North Carolina in the minds of many. 

But gone are the days of colossal physical record sales and terrestrial radio. Music is instant and accessible at the touch of your fingertips, and labels have more or less been replaced by digital marketing agencies and social media aggregators. It’s an ever-evolving and multi-faceted field of work that can be difficult to navigate. 

The second annual Confluence music conference will take place at AvidXchange Music Factory and various venues in Charlotte October 18-19. Courtesy of Confluence 

Confluence, which literally means junction or meeting point, aims to be that connection between North Carolina’s music history and its future. The second-year music industry conference spawned from the non-profit Music Everywhere CLT plans to connect the dots for musicians, artists and industry professionals to build a viable career in North Carolina. While many may ponder the age-old question of how to build a robust music scene, Music Everywhere CLT and Confluence are taking the necessary steps to provide the tools for sustainability. 

“The throughline, tying it all together, will be a theme of artists as entrepreneurs. How do you build the right team around you? How do you build a sustainable career in music, and how do you build a sustainable music industry?” Rick Thurmond, Chief Marketing Officer of Charlotte Center City Partners and head of Music Everywhere CLT said. 


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It’s a code many musicians and artists are trying to crack. Thurmond and his team have been working behind the scenes since 2017 to find the answers to help the Charlotte area’s music industry grow. He and Charlotte Center City Partners, a non-profit organization that assists with vision planning and economic development in Uptown Charlotte, began talks with those in the local music community. Those talks eventually led to the creation of the Charlotte Music Ecosystem Study and Action Plan in 2018. The plan offered over three dozen action items, one of which was a regional music conference. In 2019, Maxx Music and Midwood Entertainment launched the inaugural Confluence in partnership with Whitewater Center complete with two days of panel discussions and performances by a wide-ranging group of local musicians and artists. 

After a hiatus forced by Covid, Confluence will return to AvidXchange Music Factory October 18-19. Courtesy

After a hiatus forced by Covid, the conference is now reenergized and focused, returning to AvidXchange Music Factory October 18-19. There are two pillars in mind according to Thurmond: artist development and audience engagement. With an assortment of speakers addressing topics like booking, content, licensing, publicity, DSP playlists, branding, and touring,  the conference aims to better equip artists and music industry professionals with valuable resources to make it easier for audiences to experience local/regional music. 

“We have folks from across the Carolinas and well outside the Carolinas as well. Roger Brown and Liza Levy from the Salt Lick Incubator in Boston will be here. We’ll have speakers from SynchTank. Jason Jet, founder of Grindhaus Studios, Mikey Evans from Ari’s Take will be here,” Thurmond said. “Our speakers have worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, and many have never spoken in Charlotte before.” 

Some of the many industry professionals speaking at Confluence 2023 at AvidXchange Music Factory. 

The panels will take place inside The Hamilton, The Comedy Zone, and The Underground, with the first day oriented on the artists’ side of the business. Topics will focus on releasing music, building a fan base, marketing, and monetization. The second day will be geared more to the live performance and production, addressing subjects like pitching venues and festivals, finding a booking agent, and latest technological innovations in live performances. There will also be a vendor showcase at VBGB. 

“We’ve worked diligently on both panel topics and the schedule to prevent too many overlapping sessions, with hopes that folks will be able to attend as many as they feel would be helpful based on their interest,” said Taylor Winchester, a member of the programming committee for Music Everywhere CLT. 

Charlotte multi-instrumentalist Harvey Cummings II, one of the many artists performing at Confluence 2023. Courtesy

But Confluence isn’t just about music education and business– Thurmond and the programming committee have booked several venues in and around Uptown with a profusion of local talent. Charlotte multi-instrumentalist Harvey Cummings II and violinist/songwriter Emanuel Wynter will play Middle C Jazz and Durham rapper Jooselord will perform at Snug Harbor. Also scheduled to perform in NoDa and Plaza Midwood are indie-pop songstress Natalie Carr at Petra’s, and singer-songwriter, musician, and engineer phenom Jason Scavone at Neighborhood Theatre. 

While the task of building an economically thriving music scene in the state is challenging, there’s no doubt that Music Everywhere CLT is making strides to improve the ecosystem locally. During the pandemic, the nonprofit raised $80,000 to assist Charlotte-based musicians through small grants, according to Thurmond. The organization also developed a program called Communities in Concert in partnership with local artists El Lambert, Stefan Kallander, Eddie Harris, and Tim Scott, to place paid, pop-up performances in non-traditional outdoor spaces in the city. 

Harvey Cummings II (top left), Jason Scavone (top middle), Dane Page (top right), Curt Keyz (top left), Emmanuel Wynter (bottom middle), and Val Merza (bottom right).

Key strategies for Confluence this year is the focus on regionality and developing Charlotte as a hub for music. 

There is an incredible amount of talent throughout the Carolinas. But many of our smaller towns lack the infrastructure (recording studios, merch companies, labels, videographers, etc.) to allow artists to develop their careers,” said Thurmond. “Charlotte is the biggest city in the Carolinas and we’re right in the middle. We have an amazing airport, and 100 people move here every day…there is a lot of capital here. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Confluence takes place October 18-19 at AvidXchange Music Factory. All-access passes (conference + music) start at $75, conference-only tickets at $50, and a music-only pass at $35Check out the complete lineup and schedule for live music and speakers at Confluence Music Industry Conference + Festival.

*This article is brought to you ad-free by Charlotte Center City Partners*

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